If you had to pick one, diet or exercise, which should you focus on? The answer is that it depends what your goals are.
Living a long, healthy life
Exercise, especially as people age, can stave off illness and muscle deterioration. As a result it is more important than diet to elongating lifespan. In fact, even overweight or obese study participants benefit greatly from regular exercise, more so than from intensive weight-loss efforts that involve other factors like dieting. 
Exercise alone will not lead to pure weight loss because muscle weighs more than fat. Yet although exercise will lead to slower weight loss, it targets body fat. For example, a recent study of people coming out of the Biggest Loser competition found that those who maintained just their diets lost 34 kg on average, with 65% of the weight loss coming from body fat. Meanwhile, people who only stuck to the exercise routine lost just 27kg, with 102% from fat (it’s greater than 100% because of the lean muscle mass they gained).  However, I could not find any studies that broke down what % of weight loss comes from eating versus exercising if doing both. So I’m not sure where the often pinned adage that “abs are made in the kitchen” comes from.
The kitchen or the gym?
If you’re primary aim is an energy boost or quick weight loss regardless of muscle mass, then dieting is more effective. However, if you want to live longer or have a healthy, strong body, then you should maximize exercise. And keep in mind that you need to be energized with good food to exercise properly. So in my book, eating well goes hand in hand with exercising, and both are essential to staying fit.
During workouts I try to have a goal in mind for each set of exercises. But I’ve found that the more I try to push beyond such soft goals, the better I feel afterward: you are stronger than you think! I have learned this the hard way. Simply completing workouts wasn’t effective for me so I had to intuitively teach myself how to maximize my own potential; a cookie cutter routine will not benefit everyone in the same way.
Developing strength takes balance and concentration, which you can only master over time. But you can help yourself today by just doing one more of the same exercises that you already feel comfortable doing, and push yourself that extra bit. When you reach your goal, don’t celebrate that you could achieve it, but stay focused on the activity to see if you can exceed your expectations. This method is especially true for exercises that can easily be intensified by adding time or repetitions. By sticking with it to where your body is almost giving out you can literally push yourself to your limits.
I’ve never felt worse off if I decided to push myself, with the exception of being sick or not eating enough. If you are not eating properly or your immune system is fighting off sickness then your body needs energy for other things and you shouldn’t be working out intensely in the first place.. That doesn’t mean bed rest if you’re still going about the rest of your day, but try a simple cardio routine or a relaxing yoga session. Figure out how to prep your body for such intensity with your diet and sleeping habits.
The only times I’ve regretted pushing myself have been the days where I was already sore or had a slight injury and aggravated it. Listen to your body and allow it to regenerate and relax in between intense workout days. Give your body some recovery time and don’t always push it, but if you weren’t sore at the start, or hurt, then you should be able to take your body beyond your initial expectations.
In 2012 when I decided to try P90X for the first time, finding the motivation to begin was easy. It was new to me and my lovely Agata was willing to try it out with me. So I gave it a shot.
The first unofficial week, I worked out 2 of 7 days to get a feel for the program. I knew it would take some serious dedication because a ton of people I knew had done it but failed completing it; 1 hour 6 days a week and following the nutrition guide to a “T” is not easy. I decided to hold myself accountable by telling everyone on facebook what I had planned to do.
I got instant likes and comments about the program, mostly encouraging me to do it. Sure enough, after a while, I felt like I had to continue otherwise I’d let them (and my wife and I) down.
I posted methodically. First day; second day; first week; second week; first month; second month; finish. Each post encouraged me to keep going, not only because I wanted to post it to tell others, but more importantly, everyone else was encouraging.
I simply could not have held myself accountable without everyone else knowing as well. The momentum from the first post built up, and carried through until I made working out a habit and completed my goal. I now work out regularly just because I enjoy it and have trained myself to be self-motivated based on past positive experiences.
As I wrote at the top, this doesn’t just apply to fitness. If you have a goal, tell people about it. Tell your closest friends, tell your acquaintances, even tell random people when the subject comes up; according to one study you’ll at least be 1/3rd more likely to complete it by doing so. Motivation will snowball and you’ll find it easier and more fun each day to get closer to completing them.
Try it and see if this will keep you holding yourself accountable. By posting a goal you may be more motivated to stick to it., especially if you share it with people who will check up on you! Just remember to keep them realistic.
Fresh Grit is about taking care of yourself – encompassing wholesome eating, drinking, working, exercising and sleeping.
How do you take care of yourself? I’m sure everyone does the best they can, but more than 2/3 of Americans are overweight or obese according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And yet people don’t believe that they are overweight according to a recent Gallup Poll, which found that the majority of Americans maintain that their weight is “just about right.” (Click on the chart at the bottom of this post to learn how people’s perspectives have changed over time) There must be a fundamental flaw in what society teaches. The misinformation out there about health astounds me, and I want to help people better understand themselves.
We are not idiots, and yet a lot of us believe myths about our bodies, especially about what we eat.
I’ll be addressing many of these myths throughout the blog because, growing up, I believed that dieting was bad. Back then associated dieting with eating disorders and I vowed that I would never go on a diet. I defined dieting as watching what you eat and omitting certain things from your daily meals. I ate irregularly and excessively; I often indulged in sweets and sweet drinks. Although I hardly lived a sedentary lifestyle, regular workouts were rare; I was on some seasonal recreational sports teams, went on walks or swam laps occasionally. By the time I graduated from high school I was overweight, and the pounds packed on during college.
A few weeks before completing my studies, I took advantage of still having health insurance and went to the doctor; my blood test results signaled possible ailments up the road, and I decided to take the warning seriously. From the day after my last final, I’ve studied and experimented with nutrition, exercise and all the other components of my lifestyle. It’s been challenging and incredibly rewarding turning my health around. I plan to share my successes, failures and research as I continue on this journey.